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The Mediterranean Diet

It Includes Middle Eastern Cuisine Too!

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During the 1990’s, the Mediterranean Diet gained widespread recognition as a way of eating that helped promote a more healthy lifestyle, a feature common to those living in the Mediterranean Basin. The diet is influenced by foods that are native to these countries, foods like vegetables, wheat, fish, and fruits.

What may be the key factor in the benefits of this diet is that the foods are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat. Olive oil, which has the highest levels of monounsaturated fats of all the cooking oils, is the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that olive oil lowers cholesterol, as well as blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Red Wine, which is another common feature of the diet, has been known to be a powerful antioxidant. By eating foods with these supposed healthy properties, studies have shown that people living in the Mediterranean Basin have lower rates of heart disease compared to those living in the United States where fat consumption is relatively the same.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Today, more people than ever are discovering the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Though it is higher in fat than diet recommendations in the United States - 40% compared to 30% - people are successful in losing weight and maintaining healthy eating habits.

There is even a Mediterranean Food Pyramid just like the USDA Food Pyramid we are all used to. Both pyramids promote fruits and vegetables, but the Mediterranean Food Pyramid lists Olive Oil as the third highest daily intake recommendations, and it also separates proteins - fish, red meat, and nuts - unlike the USDA Food Pyramid. Red meat is at the very top of the Mediterranean Pyramid, recommending that it is only consumed a few times a month, and then only in small amounts.

Following the Mediterranean Diet

For those who find dieting in general difficult and hard to follow, the Mediterranean diet is by far the one diet that does not seem like a diet at all. It is recommended that the average person consume 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, fish at least twice a week, replace regular oils with olive oil, and consume nuts, like walnuts and almonds, for snack. It is also recommended to switch to dairy products containing lower amounts of fat, such as 2% milk. Red Wine is allowed at one glass per day for women and two glasses a day for men. The key is moderation, so if you are not already a drinker, it is not recommended that you start.

Check with Your Doctor First

As with any diet, research and talking to your doctor should always be done before starting. Many health care professionals are backing up the Mediterranean Diet so if you are looking for a safe, healthy diet, it is definitely something to look into.
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